Book Title:
What Big Teeth
Book Author:
Rose Szabo
Page Count:
Publishing Date:
February 2nd, 2021
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Date Read:
December 20th, 2021


Rose Szabo's thrilling debut is a dark and thrilling novel about a teen girl who returns home to her strange, wild family after years of estrangement.

Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.

Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together — in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.

My Review

I started reading this book when I was in a reading slump, and because of that it took me a good amount of time to finish it. We’re talking like a month. Which is completely unlike me, but it wasn’t that way because I didn’t like the book or anything. In fact, I really did like it. It was interesting, to say the least.

I’m not going to lie here – the cover is a huge part of what drew me to this book. I loved the colors and the teeth kind of made me feel uneasy – uneasy enough to have to know more about the book. So I read the synopsis and bam! I instantly wanted to read this. So I picked up a copy and it took me a while to get to reading it (I’ve been really busy lately), but when I did, I was surprised at how much I liked it.

Eleanor Zarrin is a teenage girl who has been at a boarding school for quite a few years. She has grown up away from her family, and while she has recollections of them, she tries not to think about them (or what they are) too often.

After a bad bullying incident leaves her with no choice but to run away from boarding school and head back home to the Zarrin household, memories come back to her – especially when no one is really pleased at her arrival. But she believes she will be safe there, among her family, so she settles back in and tries to make the best of it.

However, Eleanor soon remembers that she doesn’t quite fit in with her family, after all. They are all monstrous in nature – able to change into horrifying creatures or simply holding dark secrets of their own – and it makes Eleanor feel all the more omitted from a life she can never seem to be a part of.

“I don’t tell him that’s how it always  begins: in selfishness, in ambition, in lust or desperation. That loves starts out as something you want to bite into and ends up as something that swallows you up.”

When the already fragile family system suffers a loss that causes everything to unravel far more quickly, Eleanor knows she has to do something to keep her family together. However, she is about to find out just how far she is willing to go in order to make sure that happens.

While saving her family, she deals with the usual teenage angst – sibling concerns, feeling neglected by her parents, and love interests – only with a surprising twist that she didn’t see coming.

What Big Teeth had a lot of elements that made it a good story. There was a bit of drama, some thriller elements, a bit of horror and paranormal, and of course, the mystery elements of it. All of these things together kind of make it hard to place this book in any one category, so I’ve placed it in several because it kind of fits the bill for quite a few.

Since it took me so long to read this one (and like I said, through no fault of the book or anything), I did have to reread some of the parts that I had already read just to make sure that I got all of the important details.

The character development in What Big Teeth was interesting – Eleanor really does change from the beginning to the end, and she is forced to grow up pretty quickly. She has to go through a lot in order to come out successful, while battling grief and the issue of not fitting in – all while learning to accept not only those around her, but herself, as well.

The story of What Big Teeth is quite a memorable one, and despite having read it several months ago, it still rings fresh in my mind. This is due in part to the wonderful story elements, the great characters, and the twists that I didn’t expect to come across.

Those who are a fan of any or all the genres that I mentioned earlier will definitely want to pick up book. It truly is a gem, and I know it’s one that I will return to and read again in the future.

4 stars
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